Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Study of Pat

"Pat at the Art Establishment" conte on bristol, 18" x 24", 15 minute live figure study

Here is a quick 15 minute live study I did last Friday at The Art Establishment.  I really enjoyed doing some quick figure work, as I had not been able to do any live figure drawing in nearly a year....wow, the time sure goes quickly.  Now that I found this group that meets weekly,  I hope to be able to work with them a few times a month, weather permitting.  

This was a very quick study, and having talked to the group, they seem to mostly do rapid, gesture drawing which is nice, but I also spoke with them about doing a longer study, for perhaps 45 minutes to an hour, to really have time to develop a nice study of the subject.  They said this was a good idea, and hopefully we will be able to accomplish this on this upcoming Friday meeting.

So, that is the long and short of it for right now!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pears and cherries

"Study of pears and cherries" 2015, 7" x 14", oil on canvas
Back to the routine of being home.  Jetlag seems to have resolved, and for that, I am extremely grateful.  I have decided to do a series of little fruit paintings, just because the weather has not been too conducive to painting outdoors these last few days, and I have not done any sort of fruit studies lately, and there are lots and lots of nice fruit around during this season, so it kind of piqued my interest.

So, more little fruit studies in the next few days, hoping to clear my palette (all puns intended!) and get ready for some newer works ;-)

Monday, July 13, 2015


Sketch of canoe in the backwaters, beyond the brush, 2015

The jetlag of this trip has been the most brutal I have experienced on any trip I have taken.  It was so bad, I actually thought maybe I caught some exotic illness in the last leg of my journey, and now it was taking hold of me.  I had severe insomnia, dissociative disorder, confusion, body aches, stomach problems, broken and restless sleep when actually falling asleep, depression, just the whole kit and caboodle.  Pretty awful, but finally today, nearly a week later, I am starting to feel somewhat normal.  Not 100%, but at least now I know it will be over soon.

I have heard the jetlag of crossing the time zones against the rotation is much worse than going with them, and this was most certainly the case.  Going, I had very little period of adjustment, which is normal for me.  But, the return this time was just awful.  Even last year, coming from Eastern Europe, was bad, but not nearly as bad as this.  Last year, I felt back to nearly normal function after a day or two, this time around, wow....just wow.  I felt like I might die or go crazy.  Not meaning to scare anyone...this was just my own personal experience with it.  I have never experienced jet lag in North-South trips, but I have heard the troubles arise in the East-West travels, and usually it's much more marked when you travel against the time zones, and the longer you stay, and the more time zones you cross, the worse it is, anecdotally.  Well, I can say with certainty, it wasn't anecdotal.  At least not for me.

But, that is not to say I won't ever do such travel again...absolutely not the case!  It just means I will be more aware of what to expect, and give myself much more time to recover.  I came back and made commitments and just thought I could jump right back in immediately, and that was most certainly not the case.  I am just so happy now to be feeling on the road to normalcy, and to give myself a break and not push myself too too hard until I feel 100% like myself; maybe in the next few days, as I hope.  The rule of thumb is 1 day of jetlag for every hour/timezone difference, so that puts me at around 10 days...I am on day 6, and I am feel a huge improvement this morning, like waking up out of a dream.  I actually slept a whole 8 hours uninterrupted and restfully, which is the first time in over a week, which to me, means I have "turned the corner."  Hooray!

So, today, I am heading into my studio, plus catching up on some other paperwork and project proposals in my office, and then will just go with the flow...if I feel tired, I will rest, if not, so be it.  I have the same problem which many of my compatriots have which seems to be distinctly American:  I feel like a slacker if I allow myself to rest during the day!  I have always felt like that, even if I am sick!  I felt uneasy and guilty if I "wasted" my time taking a nap, so much so, that I rarely do it, and when the rare occasion happens, I don't enjoy it or feel more rested, because I feel guilty over having done it.  I usually barrel through things, forcing myself through fatigue or even illness, until I get in "range" of bedtime, and then, just go to bed a little early (even that rarely happens).  I am trying to move beyond this unjustified guilt, and just rest if I need to, and that's that.  It seems to be working this time around, because yesterday, I literally spent the day resting, and then slept a very good nights sleep, and today, I feel much better, and ready to go :-)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

En route

"View from my balcony on a rainy day'  Oil on canvas board, 11" x 14"  

Today is the day.  Going home.  I am excited and of course, always a little wary, and will be able to relax once I'm aboard the plane for America in Mumbai.  

Alyssa and I plan to make a little day of it in Cochin before I go to the airport, and that's fine.  I had planned on going straight to the airport, but I would have sat for nearly 12 hours, so why not do a little sight seeing beforehand?  She is staying in Cochin for the evening, so I can stow my luggage in her hotel for the afternoon, and at least have a nice day out.  And then, I'm very happy to be on route home, and to see my family and friends.  For some reason, this trip was harder for me, and it seemed harder to engage with the culture, and by the time I did, it was almost time to come home, so maybe the next time plan a longer trip, and knowing what to expect, I will feel comfortable more quickly than this time around.  I think the experience was SO foreign to me, the culture shock took more time to overcome.  But, experience is priceless, so I am happy for it...all things are a learning experience, and this trip was certainly that.

So, bon voyage to India, and hello to America.  I am looking forward to home :-)

Saturday, July 4, 2015


"Boatsmen in the lilypads"  oil on canvas, 11" x 16"

Going home tomorrow.  It's truly been an adventure, from the horrifying first night in Goa when I got stung by an Asian wasp (super wasp) and the misery of that incident, to the harrowing night in the Margoa train station and the amazing train trip down coast of India....the gray stormy seas at the junction of Mangalore, that looked so ferocious and intense, I thought the waves would wash over the train, that's how close we came to the ocean...

The residency was a very intense experience, but in the end, it was a success in the larger sense of things.  Although I may not have completed all of the works I had intended, I did complete a good amount, and actually, if I count the many sketches I did, and research writing, etc., I actually did more than what I had anticipated. And, of course, there is the other element of the experience of India, and meeting new friends, so yes, no matter what technical hiccups we had along the way, the residency was most certainly successful.

Now, as I sit here an look out on the rice paddies from my terrace, I know I will miss India.  It is a very ancient society that is making it's way into the global arena, but still retains so much of it's varied culture and heritage, and the people, rather than frightening as we think they are with all of the news of rapes and brutality (and yes, that element is very real), are rather endearing and kind.  The people here like to speak to foreigners and are curious and will offer you tea or chai in their home and conversation, so that is the gracious side of India you don't see blaring across the news wires.  Personally, aside from a belligerent panhandler in Margao train station, all of my interactions with the Indian people were very pleasant, and very courteous.  

So, I will have this last night to reflect and contemplate India, and to prepare for my long journey home to the States....

Friday, July 3, 2015

Countdown to home: 4 days

"The ghost boat, Lake Vembanad"  oil on canvas board, 11" x 16"

My keyboard went on the fritz as well for the last few days, so there seems to be some little gremlin that is haunting my iPad.  I thought it went down for the count yesterday, but I was able to resurrect it.  I have made quite a few "notes to self" on this trip, trust me, and bringing an iPad for the sake of space is a faux pas on a trip where you need to do more than just a little light Facebook posting...this was my first time doing so (I usually lug my laptop), and thought it might be a progressive and novel way to travel, but it was mostly troublesome, as the keyboard kept acting up, losing it's charge, etc.  So, to be on the safe side for a work trip, it is either: a.) the laptop  or b.) the iPad with a better keyboard and the right attachments (that is a whole other blog in itself!).

We are having a Fourth of July "party" tonight, it will technically be our closing dinner, as several people leave tomorrow rather than Monday, and that is fine.  I am mentally gearing up for the long trip back to the USA, and what comes after....what did I take away from this trip and hope to build on?  This journey in India was a mixed bag: interesting, frustrating, challenging, and provocative.  I met some new friends, learned some new tihings, rehashed some old ideas as well, learned to work around the obstacles of environment and a very varied group of people, learned to just adapt and go with the flow rather than be constantly frustrated (I think this is a hard one in particular for us people that are very visionary or goal driven), and through it all, actually was able to "see" the people and landscape of India.  I believe if I had chosen to stay on here longer, say for a few months, I would really have grown and loved it very much, but the brevity of the trip takes me away home again just when I was beginning to enjoy and understand India...but that is the nature of the game.

We resolved the whole issue of accommodations a few days ago, when our hosts shifted me and another artist to the resort a kilometer down the road, so we now have better accommodations in terms of amazing air conditioning, wifi, and just general comforts like TV and larger beds, hot water, etc.  The base/original property is an amazing one, just couldn't sleep at night in the heat, and the air conditioner system wasn't going to be fixed in time for us to continue sleeping there. We are still experiencing rolling blackouts, but this place is also on a generator system, so we are not really affected too badly by it.  The staff on this resort are also very nice and every morning they call to see if we would like fresh linens and laundry done (which I don't need daily, but it's a nice offer) and bring us a very nice made-to-order Continental breakfast of omelettes, toast and jam, coffee and tea, and lovely local foods, on our private terrace that overlooks a beautiful vista of rice paddies.  There are several different species of herons and storks that wade through the watery vegetation, and it is a most relaxing view.  Of course, we are limited to sitting there by day, because at night, we become tender sweet meats for the mosquitoes...and no amount of DEET seems to keep these annoyances away.

I think for the last day of my trip here, I will spend the day sightseeing in Fort Cochin with another artist, I am still debating it, if not, I will relax here for the day before leaving and going to the airport, but I am still unsure.  The idea of one last hurrah in Fort Cochin is starting to sound more and more appealing, so that is probably what I will do.   For today, we have a little exhibition going of my artwork, and my presentation which was put off until today because of technical issues with the wifi and scheduling clashes, etc. and then our "party," so I will just finish up one more painting, and close the book on India...or should I say, close the chapter?  There may always be more to come....

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Day 17

"Wash day" oil on canvas panel, 11" x 14  

Day 17--Musical Beds

Closer to home.  Just a few days to go, and I am looking forward to going home and seeing my family and just being home and comfortable.  This is the first time I really feel somewhat homesick on a travel abroad, so it is what it is...alot went on on this trip, so I guess that is normal.  It is still up in the air whether this trip will technically be a failure for me, and that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I was unable to get even half the work done that I had anticipated, due to various setbacks, plus, being in shared quarters, it's difficult, no matter which way you slice it.  I tried to improvise things a bit, but there is a delicate give and take that must be done for the comfort of others as well, so that I was not able to get the amount of work done I would have as if I was on my own, which I originally intended.  For the sake of the residency experience I had made a decision to not leave the compound earlier on, and the group of artists, even though the accommodations were growing inadequate (not due to size, just to maintenance), but now I may regret that decision.  If I had left earlier, I might have had a chance at getting more work done, but that opportunity is gone now too, so either way, even if the accomodations are improved, I will be so far behind there will be no catching up.  I just have to accept and deal with that fact, and work with what I've got when I return to the States, to develop my series.

And, what I have is only a handful of sketches and five paintings, which is pitiful.  Last night, our room reached nearly 100 degrees inside, no breeze, and the moisture in the room was so dense, our pillows were soggy and smelled moldy.  Our air conditioner has not worked in over a week in the heat and intense moisture, but that is due to a maintenance problem rather than electrical issues. We were told that four of the five shared bedrooms DID have running air conditioners, even on the generator, whereas we (my roomie and I) did not have air conditioning for days now, and were told by the men that staff the property that the issue would be resolved, and sadly, it never was.  

After the room reached that zenith of heat, no amount of sleeping in your underwear could make it livable, just left us open to mosquitoes and predators (the human kind) by forcing us to sleep with all windows and even the door open for a little cross draft, so we were forced to decamp in the middle of the night, and join a room of 3 (that was also over original capacity of 2) who were kind enough to invite us into their already crowded quarters.  Now, there were 5 of us in this room, like artist refugees, huddled around the air conditioner, sleeping with our mattresses on the floor, and even though the room is very large, it was still an awkward experience, and one I do not wish to continue with for the remainder of my stay, mostly because I know I will never get a decent night's sleep for any of these nights left, just because I am a fussy sleeper.  This means I will be looking to leave here if the air condtioning situation can't be rectified today.  It's just too many people in a room, although another room of gracious artists did say we could join them (3 in a room), I feel kind of bad about that too, like a gate crasher, as their room is very small, but we'll see how it goes today.

So, that's my situation for now.  I got about 2 hours of sleep last night, and am groggy and grouchy.  I don't see a very productive work day in this weary and disjointed state, but I'm hoping to (again) try to push through the discomfort and get this painting done (it might be the final one here, not sure yet), and if the conditions aren't improved, have to have my hosts arrange for me to stay at another homestay or resort until Monday, where I can have some air conditioner and be able to sleep without feeling like I'm stuck to flypaper.  Not an impossibility in India by the way, as I had it in Goa at that modest little holiday home called "Angels" that I stayed at privately prior to coming to Lilypad.  As I understand, if the air conditioners cannot be fixed for our room today, the owner/ residency hosts will extend us the gracious action of sending us to a hotel a kilometer or so down the road that has air conditioning so we can spend the night in comfort, and then transport us back to the compound for breakfast and working, etc.  That is sounding very good at this junction, and although I like my room and my roomie and I had/have a good system in here, she is opting for the comfort of air conditioning as well...

That's the long and short of it.  Our residency hosts have been trying hard to get everything resolved, and for that I feel sorry for them, as they are also dealing with the gripes and discomfort of a group of 10, all are frustrated in varying degrees, by various issues such as the wifi, etc. and so, hopefully, we can just get this situation fixed today and enjoy the last several days here we have left.....In the meantime, I will try to finish up my last painting, and maybe if I can get another done by Saturday, I will attempt it.  I'll have to see how it goes, depending on the weather, the workspace, etc.

Day ???

 I am so tired, but being that we have been offline for nearly five days, I will post up the first painting I did after we went back to being primitive (without power or internet).  It's amazing how much you can get accomplished when you are offline...and we all laughed about how we knew we were back online: no one talked to each other the moment we went live again.  Pretty sad.  For those five days, we actually became human beings again, talking, laughing, interacting, playing games, watching movies, all the things we did before we went online.  And, once we went on again, it was instantaneous...the room got silent, and all you heard was the clicking of keyboards, and an exasperated mutter here and there as we each sank deeper into our own little universe.

So, I am playing catch up here with my journal.  It was a long lost five days of laying around in the sauna that is monsoon during the long, hot afternoons, awaiting that cool breeze that starts to ruffle the curtains around 4 pm, so deliciously, like a long desperate drink of cold water.  The mosquitoes come if there is no breeze, so we go crazy spraying each other, like a group of monkeys in a wild forest.  The pool filtration system went down too, so that it began to resemble a swamp rather like the backwaters, and swimming became impossible, so in the long sweltering stretches of afternoon, between stripping nearly naked like a savage and painting, then collapsing in a sweaty heap in a patch of shade, hopping a cold shower and repeating the process, I was actually able to produce some work.  A bit strange, but that's the nature of this trip so far, frustrating, strange, yet highly entertaining.  It is such a primitive experience now, I am kind of glad it went this way...I feel like I can honestly say I had an authentic experience, sans any comforts we have grown to depend on: electricity, warm water, internet, AIR CONDITIONING, comfort foods, television, clean laundry (aside what we wash in our own buckets and hang all over the compound like a crazy decorations), ice cubes or even confirmed drinking water...but, it is still very interesting.

A few days ago, as we all sat around lost, lamenting and bewildered, we decided it would be best to do something, so we took a houseboat ride around Lake Vembanad, and it was absolutely gorgeous.  The houseboat was beautiful, and we enjoyed the cool breezes of the lake, and afternoon tea.  It really cheered us all up, and we all had a laugh about getting adjusted to our lack of tech...we are getting there.  It's amazing how much we have grown to depend on it, and how it takes some days to get readjusted to living as we did maybe 20 or so years ago....

Carry on- Beginning Life in Lockdown

“Study of dramatic back lighting” oil on wooden panel, 16” x 16” Strange Times Beginning Life in Pandemic Lockdown Life in ...